Thursday, November 5, 2009

Holiday Hostess Gift Ideas - Gifts that Give Back, Part 1

My favorite holiday hostess gift of all time came from the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Holiday Hope Gift Book.

What’s especially special about gifts like these is that the stories behind them can spark meaningful conversations (and action) to advance good causes. Many items feature art designed by patients and “100% percent of profits, after all related expenses, benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital," according to the Web site.

Check out the lovely selection of ornaments - I first found out about the St. Jude Hope Gift Book maybe a year or two ago after seeing their ornaments recommended in a magazine, but the ones I wanted were sold out. So if you see something you like, consider buying it sooner than later.

What I have my eye on this year: holiday ruffle plates. Imagine how heart-warming they could be when topped with homemade cookies!

I want to write more ideas for “gifts that give back” in future editions...

Do you have a favorite place to buy quality, affordable gifts that give back to charity? Email me at valuforia at

Necklace that Looks Way More Expensive Than It Was (IMHO)

After admiring some stunning gold jewelry made by a designer for Hollywood celebrities, I was searching for similarly styled pieces with significantly lower price tags.

That’s when I found this gold-over-silver hooped necklace at Kohl’s, and have worn it countless times since - I think it looks smashing with black V-neck shirts and sweaters. You gotta love how a nice necklace lengthens and flatters the figure by drawing the eye upward. The 16-inch necklace is the one I own, but it’s also available in 24-inch length.

It could make an impressive looks-more-expensive-than-it-was gift, for yourself or others.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Make Someone’s Day for Less Than $10

How often can you make someone’s day with a nice present - one that’s personal, special and gift-wrapped - for less than $10?

I found such a gift recently in the form of a half-pound box of See’s Candies, which the folks at the local See’s counter helped me customize for my grandmother. (They also waited patiently while a long line formed as I tried to be quick about picking the candies gramma would like best.) 

It was hard to choose with dozens of options like milk chocolate or dark, marshmallow, caramel, cafe au lait, vanilla buttercream, apricot, strawberry, raspberry, etc., etc.

Bonus tip: So that your recipient can easily figure out what’s inside each confection, include a product list (I got one from the store) complete with color photos and descriptions. Invite her to circle the sweets she likes best and send the list back to you for future gift-buying reference.

How nice to give a $10 gift and get a way to connect with a faraway loved one!

Do you have a gift idea that’s $10 or less and truly something special? Email me at valuforia at